Emil Frey Jaguar Racing celebrated an excellent result for the Jaguar crew at the season final of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. Following a season with a lot of bad luck and disappointments, the Swiss team fought their way back after a chaotic qualifying to take the final chequered flag of the last three-hour-race this season with a strong photo-finish for both Jaguar GT3, coming home in tenth and 11th place.
Changing weather conditions caused difficult track conditions on Saturday, but for both the new entries, Norbert Siedler and Alex Fontana, it played in their hands to get to know various Set-up changes for the Jaguar GT3. The Spanish heaven open its doors once more for the early qualifying on Sunday morning, when it started to rain right before the start of the session. But as if that was not enough already, the #114 Jaguar suffered an issue with the starter and was unable to set a time in Q2. In the third and last qualifying session, the sister car #14 also suffered a technical issue with the gearbox, which resulted in a starting position in the second-to-last row on the grid of 50 GT3s. The #114 Jaguar GT3 secured P14 on the grid.
Whilst Stéphane Ortelli charged through the field coming from all the way back, making up 24 positions in the first 20 minutes, Marco Seefried also impressed in the #114 sister car with strong opening laps, which saw him coming from P14 into eighth place. With consecutive, absolute fastest times in sector 1 and 2, both Jaguar GT3 underlined the great performance of the cars once again.
Ortelli handed the #14 Jaguar GT3 to his new team-mate, Alex Fontana, from P7 for him to re-join as 21nd. Whilst the Swiss driver had a fairly quiet stint in his debut race for the Jaguar team, which saw him coming all the way up to fourth place until the pitstop and the driver change, Jonathan Hirschi had one or two scary moments in the #114. Hirschi, who re-joined the race in tenth following the driver change, was touched by another driver first of all who forced him into a spectacular spin. Afterwards, he had a great three-way battle for tenth place with the #8 Bentley and the #99 BMW.
The third half of the race saw the drivers Christian Klien (#114 Jaguar GT3) and Norbert Siedler (#14 Jaguar GT3) put out all the stops once more to cross the finishing line in tenth and 11th position – a strong final, following a season with many ups and downs.
“Those points are truly well-deserved”, said Jürg Flach, Technical Director at Emil Frey Jaguar Racing. “After both Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying did not go to plan, we had the qualifying, which shock us up both from a weather point of few as well as with technical issues on both cars. We were able to repair the #114 during Q2 to set a time for P14 in the last qualifying session. The #14 was without a time during Q3, which meant it had to start from the second-to-last starting position. We underlined our good performance with a good pace and faultless pitstops during the race. The #14 proved that coming from P47 all the way up into P11. The #114 was able to transfer the good starting position into a valuable result. The whole team has done a great job and we can all be proud of our good performance!”
“After the disappointing in qualifying this morning, we are more than pleased with the great performance of both Jaguar GT3 in the final race of the season”, says Lorenz Frey, Team Principal Emil Frey Jaguar Racing. “Today, we showed once again, that the Jaguar GT3 still has an outstanding performance and is capable to fight for top positions in this highly competitive championship. We had a lot of bad luck this year, therefore this result tastes very sweet. It´s a shame that the season is over, because we continuously became stronger and with one or two more races, we could have achieved something good. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the drivers and the entire team for them to always stay motivated and gave their absolute best.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #14
Stéphane Ortelli (MCO)
“At the beginning, I let my new team-mates spent more time in the car to get to know it better. The team provided me with a fantastic car for the race and it was a lot of fun to drive today. We showed an incredible achievement, to start so far back and come all the way up. This is simply a very strong result for the entire team.”
Norbert Siedler (A)
“Right before qualifying it started to rain and it was expected that the first session would provide the fastest laptimes. We were able to drive the Jaguar GT3 in both dry and wet conditions on Saturday and could test some different Set-ups. I really enjoyed my race with Emil Frey Jaguar Acing and I am very happy that following the good result in last year´s season final, we have also had a strong finish this year.”
Alex Fontana (CH)
“I am very pleased, that I was able to drive for Emil Frey Jaguar Racing being Swiss. At the same time, it was a great opportunity for me to come back racing in the Blancpain GT Series in PRO-Class. The car was still new to me and I had to get to grips with the Jaguar GT3, but I started to feel comfortable pretty quickly, because it simply is a great car. It was not so easy for me during the race and I tried different racing lines, but found my way around quite good.”
Driver Quotes Emil Frey GT3 Jaguar #114
Christian Klien (A)
“All year, we had a very good car with a good performance and it was our goal to show that with a good result in the last race of the season. Sunday morning started off quite stressful with the early qualifying and the rain. When Marco got in the car in the second session, he suffered a technical issue with the starter. We managed to get back out with nine minutes left and set the 14th fastest time. After all the chaos, we had a mega race and are super happy.”
Marco Seefried (GER)
“I got my first experience with the Jaguar GT3 in wet conditions in Saturday´s Pre-Qualifying and I must say, it felt pretty good. We had an issue with the starter during qualifying and I could not drive one single lap. The start into the race went well and I was able to make up some positions right from the beginning. I had small contact with the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, but I was able to avoid anything bad and both cars were not damaged. Until the pitstop, we were running in a comfortable eighth place. Jonathan had a lucky escape with his spin. But it was an overall strong performance for the team at the season´s end.”
Jonathan Hirschi (CH)
“The car felt great from the very first outlap in Free Practice and we were confident to find the right key for a good final race of the Endurance cup this year. My stint was a little difficult, it started off well and then I was hit by another car and spun. I was lucky to avoid an impact. The tyres did not work that well after that, but I gave my best and did not risk too much. I am just really happy for my team-mates and the entire team for the good performance, which we showed in the last race.”
Source. Emil Frey Jaguar Racing